Academic Paper Ridiculed for Claiming Mind Power Can Turn Boiled Eggs Raw Again

All it takes is a few paper cups and 20 minutes, the paper claims.
academic paper research eggs
A Chinese woman says she managed to get live chicks from cooked eggs. PHOTO: JOEL SAGET / AFP

An academic paper declaring success in turning cooked eggs back into their raw form has prompted a backlash against fraudulent publishing in China.

In a paper published in government-run magazine Pictorial Geography last year, the authors claim that they were able to uncook eggs with the “ultra-psychological mental power” of 10 people at a vocational school in the central city of Zhengzhou.


In the experiment, the participants each put a boiled egg in a paper cup and spent 20 minutes focusing their mind on “reviving” the egg, according to the paper.

In a second article, published last month in the same magazine, the authors described how some of the eggs were incubated and hatched to produce live chicks. 

Screenshots of the one-page papers went viral on Chinese social media this week, triggering a wave of criticism against the academic industry that gave a voice to pseudoscience.

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The academic paper includes a photo of what it claims to be a "revived egg." Photo: Zhihu

Pictorial Geography is a fringe academic magazine managed by the government of Jilin province in northeastern China. Authorities suspended its operations on Tuesday to investigate how the egg experiments got published. 

But when reached by Chinese outlet Beijing News on Monday, the paper’s lead author, Guo Ping, insisted the experiments were real, but she said she had no idea why the miracle happened. 

“There are many things in life that go against common sense,” Guo, head of the Chunlin Vocational School, was quoted as saying. “I conducted the experiment just to give it a try. But [cooked] eggs could be turned alive, this experiment result left me in shock.”

Another person listed as author in one of the papers told Chinese media he was only responsible for the incubation, and had no idea his name was on the article. 

Guo’s school is dedicated to improving children’s brain development. The school also offers lessons on pictorial memorization and using mental power to move objects, according to adverts posted on the school’s official WeChat page. The adverts were removed after being reported by Chinese media.


The school could not be reached for comments on Tuesday. 

China was the world’s largest producer of scientific articles in 2018, but it lagged behind the U.S. and the European Union in the overall impact of scientific research, as measured by the number of highly-cited articles, according to a report by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Strange academic writings regularly make headlines in China, where publishing papers is required not only for academics but also professionals and government officials who are seeking to advance their careers.

The strong desire for publishing has given rise to rampant plagiarism, corruption, and fraud in the publishing industry.

Last year, an academic paper published in the Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology prompted public anger because it was filled with extravagant praise for the author’s supervisor and the supervisor’s wife. 

Another academic paper published by doctoral candidates from Beijing Normal University in 2017 was widely ridiculed for claiming that Marxist theories could be used to set ozone standards and cut air pollution in China.

The government has in recent years introduced tough regulations to crack down on academic misconduct.

On Tuesday, state media says the government of Zhengzhou has launched an investigation into the vocational school that conducted the egg experiment.

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